Living in Light of Two Ages
Who is watching Joel Osteen? Not I! But he does amaze me. How can he preach on the exact same topic every Sunday--"God wants me to be better"--and, yet make it seem different?
When it comes to Christian media, and who accesses it, the numbers are revealing. Who Is Watching TV or Listening to Christian Radio?
Only 8% of Americans admit to watching Christian television regularly--I'll bet the demographics here are interesting. Probably older women with blue hair, who live below the Mason-Dixon line, and east of Mississippi.
24% watch Christian TV "sometimes," 27% "rarely," and 40% "never."
Christian radio fares a tad worse. 10% listen "regularly," 17% "sometimes," 19% "rarely," 52% "never."
Podcast numbers are low (the media is new). 4% "regularly," 10% "sometimes," 11% "rarely," 72% "never."
The numbers also show that
- 67 percent of Americans never or rarely watch Christian-based programming on television. Those who do watch at least sometimes are overwhelmingly self-identified evangelicals (69 percent) and weekly churchgoers (62 percent).
- 71 percent never or rarely listen to Christian radio. Those who do are similar to the Christian TV crowd — 67 percent are evangelicals and 57 percent are weekly churchgoers.
- 84 percent of Americans never or rarely listen to Christian-themed podcasts. Books and movies fared slightly better: 33 percent said they at least sometimes read Christian-based books. And 40 percent report seeing a Christian movie in the last year.
The Twenty-First in a Series of Sermons on the Gospel of John
Using five small barely loaves and two dried fish, Jesus miraculously fed over five thousand people in the wilderness east of the Sea of Galilee. Later that same night when a sudden storm blew in on the Sea, Jesus walked across the water and joined his frightened disciples in their boat, and immediately calmed the storm. These two miracles reveal that Jesus is a new Moses who is leading his people in a New Exodus. Just as YHWH fed the Israelites in the wilderness of the Sinai, so too, Jesus has fed the people in a wilderness in Galilee. And just as the Psalmist spoke of YHWH as Lord of sea and storm, so too Jesus walked across the water and commanded the winds. These two miracles reveal much about who Jesus is, and together they serve as the backdrop for Jesus to tell us more about who he is and the nature of his mission, which he does in the so-called “bread of life” discourse recorded in John 6:26-58. One of the most profound sections of our Lord’s teaching in the entire New Testament, the “bread of life” discourse is also one of the most difficult for Jesus’ audience to accept–not because they do not understand Jesus, but rather, because they do. The things Jesus has to say in this discourse are so difficult to accept, that many among the crowds who have been following Jesus do so no more, and even his most trusted disciples are tempted to walk away.
As we resume our series on the Gospel of John, and we are working our way through John 6. On the last two Lord’s Days, we have covered each of the two miracles (vv. 1-21), which set the stage for the teaching discourse which follows the next day. According to John’s account, huge crowds have been following Jesus wherever he goes throughout the Galilee region, many following Jesus out into the wilderness east of the sea of Galilee without food, and where Jesus miraculously fed over five thousand people. Jesus left the area after night fell, because he knew that those in the crowds who had identified him as the prophet predicted by Moses, now desired to make him king–even by force, should he refuse. The disciples got back into their boat, and headed west across the sea of Galilee so as to return to Capernaum, only to be caught in a storm. They were frightened, John says, when they saw someone walking across the water toward them. They were greatly comforted when they realized it was Jesus, who then joined them in their boat.
Meanwhile, the crowds who had been out in the wilderness spent the night searching for Jesus and are quite surprised to find him the next morning in the synagogue in Capernaum. How did Jesus get there so fast, since it was obvious (or so they thought) that the disciples had left the east side of the sea without Jesus? With people searching everywhere for him throughout the night, how did he get to Capernaum without anyone knowing? The chaotic scene is described in verses 22-25, “on the next day the crowd that remained on the other side of the sea saw that there had been only one boat there, and that Jesus had not entered the boat with his disciples, but that his disciples had gone away alone. Other boats from Tiberias came near the place where they had eaten the bread after the Lord had given thanks. So when the crowd saw that Jesus was not there, nor his disciples, they themselves got into the boats and went to Capernaum, seeking Jesus. When they found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you come here?
To read the rest of this sermon, Click Here
Sunday Morning (March 1): This coming Lord's Day we wrap up our time in 2 Peter. We will be discussing patience as we wait for the Lord's return (2 Peter 3:14-18). Our Lord's Day worship service begins at 10:30 a.m.
Sunday Afternoon: I am continuing my series on the Canons of Dort, and this Lord's Day we are working our way through the Fifth Head of Doctrine (articles 12-13). We will discuss how the Christian's assurance of salvation produces good works. Our catechism service begins @ 1:15 p.m.
Wednesday Night Bible Study (February 25): We are continuing our "Run Through the Letters of Paul" and we are finishing up the first chapter of Galatians.
The Academy (February 27): We are continuing our study of Michael Horton's theology text The Christian Faith. We will be discussing God's eternal decree (pp. 310-323).
For more information and directions, check out the Christ Reformed website: Christ Reformed Church
This week on the White Horse Inn we are concluding our series on the Book of Hebrews, focusing on chapters eleven through thirteen. Nancy Guthrie joins us once more as we look at the perseverance of the saints at the end of Hebrews.
On this episode we consider the nature of true saving faith. Can a Christian have utter confidence that their faith will persevere till the end? Is it not arrogant to think our faith is strong enough for life’s trials and temptations? What is true faith and how does it relate to the atoning sacrifice and active obedience of Christ? Can a believer truly lose his or her salvation? Is faith merely a blind leap? Why is Jesus referred to as “the author and perfecter” of our faith? Join us as we conclude our series traversing the wonders of the Book of Hebrews on the White Horse Inn.
The boys of spring are back! Spring training games begin in a couple of weeks, while the season opener is April 1. Box scores! Gameday (the best App ever)! MLB Tonight! Can't wait!
A-Rod gets the treatment he so richly deserves . . .
This article caught my eye--Six Ways Mormons Can Enjoy the Spirit of Lent. Why would Mormons want anything to do with Lent?--something Mormons have historically associated with paganism creeping into the church shortly after the age of the apostles. Well, if American evangelicals are now attracted to such things, Mormons will do the same.
Notice the way in which the author of this essay (Kelsey Berteaux) explains how easily the Lenten season can be made to fit right in with Mormon notions of works-righteousness ("grace coupled with obedience to the laws and ordinances of the gospel") . . .
Though Latter-day Saints don’t observe the traditions of Lent, we can always learn a thing or two from it as we search for things that are of good report and praiseworthy. After all, we can always use a reminder to be better and have a more meaningful Easter.
Lent is well-known as a time to sacrifice. For the next 40 days (plus Sundays, which aren’t counted as part of the 40-day Lent tradition), make a “negative” change by resolving to take something bad out of your life. You could try giving up a TV program, excessive social media use, bad music, junk food, or something else you struggle with.
Here is the part that really jumped out . . . A citation from the Book of Mormon is actually adduced to support the practice.
The idea behind this tradition is captured beautifully in the words of Lamoni’s father:
“I will give away all my sins to know thee, and that I may be raised from the dead, and be saved at the last day” (Alma 22:18).
There are other ways Lent can be co-opted by Mormons.
As with LDS fasting, traditional Lent followers donate the money saved from eating a sacrifice meal to the poor and needy. Consider donating the money you saved to fast offerings along with your normal monthly donation.
During Lent, incorporate the color purple into your life in some small way. Consider putting out a purple table runner, buying purple flowers, or hanging a purple picture in your home. Then, every time you see the item (or any other purple item you encounter during your day), think back on the Savior and His sacrifice on your behalf. Also remember the commitments you’ve made as part of your Lent celebration.
The point of observing Lent—however you decide to do it—is to find more meaning in the Easter season and draw closer to Christ. The best, and perhaps simplest thing you can do is resolve to learn more about our Savior and His sacrifice.
The pressing issue here, of course, is that the Mormon "Christ" is none other than the spirit-brother of Lucifer, who was raised by the Father--who, in Mormon theology, is also a glorified, immortal, and resurrected man.
Since Mormonism consistently seeks to masquerade as a "Christian" denomination, well then, if the evangelicals are interested in Lent, Mormons need to be as well. Got to keep up with the Jones' you know.
Only in the bizarro world of American religion . . .
A cat (we call her by the generic name "Kitty") has moved into my yard and claimed the Riddlebargers as her designated cat-servants.
The implied agreement is that we will feed her and provide her with proper sleeping arrangements, in exchange for vermin removal. A classic quid pro quo. So far so good. She is a good hunter--I'll grant her that.
According to a recent article as to whether or not pets provide any tax relief (Tax Deductions for Pets?), it is pretty clear that keeping my current arrangement with Kitty will do nothing to lower my taxes.
Believe it or not, you can actually deduct pet expenses for five reasons--none, of course, apply to me.
1). Is your pet used as a guide animal? Well, the only thing to which this cat will guide me is her food.
2). Is your pet a guard animal? Yeah, right. The lazy cat just stares when the opossums show up at night to eat her food. She doesn't even hiss. I guess she figures she's trained us to provide more food for her in the morning.
3). If you move and incur expenses moving your pets. Let me just say this, if I ever move, whoever buys my house needs to know that the property comes with a cat.
4). If you participate in a pet rescue program. Well, there would be a debate about this one. Did the Riddlebargers rescue her, or did she claim us? And if I have to add another cat or two to claim the deduction, well then, I won't qualify. One cat is too many.
5). If your pet turns into a profession. How any one could make a significant income from a spayed feline who sleeps all day, who is indifferent most of the time to her caretakers, and who catches a rat, mouse, or lizard whenever she feels like it, is beyond me.
Being claimed by a cat only makes me want a dog (I miss Andy). Having a cat claim my yard as her own, certainly won't help me at tax time. But it is nice to have someone on permanent vermin duty. She stays, for now.